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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Look At San Diego County COVID Deaths By Zip Code Reveals Huge Disparity

 July 27, 2020 at 11:24 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The big picture San Diego County last week marked a tragic statistic with our 500th death amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But that only tells part of the story joining me to examine the details of where these deaths are clustered is KPBS investigative reporter Claire Tresor Claire, welcome to midday edition. Thank you. We'll start with how you went about determining where the deaths are occurring in San Diego County. Speaker 2: 00:28 Right? So, so far, uh, the County has not released this, this data. Um, and so we, we just requested that they provide us with a breakdown, uh, by zip code of, of where the deaths are occurring and, and they sent it over. Um, it's not something that I think they're going to update regularly, but we'll keep, keep requesting the information so that we can, uh, provide updates as we go. Speaker 1: 00:55 And what stands out in this report as you look at these various statistics and, and match them up geographically? Speaker 2: 01:03 Yeah, I mean, it's, um, it's pretty stark when you, we, we made a map which you can see@kpbs.org and it's a searchable map by zip code. And if you just look at it, the, the zip codes with the highest deaths are in South Bay and national city, Chula Vista, um, alcohol, and then Southeast San Diego. And as you move North throughout the County, um, there's just fewer and fewer deaths. Some, some places in Encinitas and Carlsbad, and so on a beach and ally gardens have had a zero deaths and a lot of them, uh, have had less than five. And then also, I mean, if you just look at the overall numbers, 60% of the cases and 45% of the people who have died were Hispanic or Latino, compare that to Latinos, make up just 34% of the population in San Diego County. So it's clearly hitting, um, South Bay and people of, uh, Hispanic or Latino origin the most. Speaker 1: 02:03 And we have talked on the program about some of the reasons behind that, but just generally remind us of why, uh, the folks who look at these statistics and study why this is happening, why they're seeing this hit this community so badly. Speaker 2: 02:17 It's because people who live live in those areas are more likely to be lower income. So maybe they live with a bigger family, which means that the virus can spread more easily, more likely to be essential workers. Um, so, you know, they're not able to work from home and kind of avoid the risk of, of getting the virus. And then, um, I mean, if you just look at data from across the country, the New York times has now, uh, collected lots more data. And it shows that people who are dying are just far more likely to be people of color, either black or Hispanic or Latino. We're seeing that here in the as well, I guess I didn't expect it to be so stark. The thing that was the most shocking to me was just the, how few deaths there were in, um, in some parts of the County. And I think it, it kind of leads you to think that some people in parts of the County don't really feel impacted by this very much. Maybe they don't know anyone who has died or his who has even gotten sick. Um, and you can see that when you look at the map that parts of the County, that may be true, Speaker 1: 03:29 There are several zip codes with no deaths at all, as we're saying, or fewer than five, uh, they're not all wealthy areas though, are they Speaker 2: 03:35 Mostly, they, they are it's. So the County doesn't provide exact numbers if it's between one and five, because that's kind of too much of a privacy violation, I think. And so a lot of the County is just, you know, LA Hoya, Tierra Santa Poway, um, Del Mar is one to five people and then parts of, um, Carlsbad Encinitas. So on a beach or zero interesting normal Heights is zero. Um, I'm not sure what that is. It may just be a smaller population in that zip code and then allied gardens, um, is also zero, um, which is interesting, cause that's kind of a, an older, um, population in some ways. So, um, but mostly yes, it's, it's areas that are, that are more wealthy coastal North County that are, that are the least impacted. Speaker 1: 04:29 Right. And you mentioned, uh, the, um, age of the population. It also reflected that, right? The, as we've been hearing all along, the, the folks over 80 are just the most vulnerable, certainly over 65, but, but the statistics show that nearly half over 80, uh, have, uh, been reflected in the deaths here. Right? Speaker 2: 04:48 Right. Yeah. I mean, we've been doing analysis, um, over, over time and it's, it's consistently been, uh, been that way. And so now we see 47% of those who died were over 80. Um, 23% were between 70 and 79. So the next oldest, uh, segment of the population, and then less than 5% were under age 49, the vast majority, 95% of those who died had underlying health conditions. Hypertension is 52% diabetes, 35% cardiac disease, 32% and asthma, 14% Speaker 1: 05:26 Nancy Maldonado, president of the Chicano Federation of San Diego County. What does she say about the data? Speaker 2: 05:32 I mean, she is also, you know, not surprised. Um, she says that it's just impacting a lot of the populations that she works with as she had a pretty striking quote. She said, if, if we were seeing this in places like Del Mar or LA Hoya that perhaps, um, people's response to it would be different than that. It would be getting more attention. The Chicano Federation is just trying to work with the communities that they represent to, um, to make sure that people are staying as safe as they can and are as informed as they can. And, um, they're working with the County on that as well. Speaker 1: 06:10 I've been speaking with KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire Traeger, sir, you can use our searchable zip code map@kpbs.org. Thanks Claire. Thank you.

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More than half of the people who died lived in either the South Bay, City Heights, or Southeast San Diego — the most ethnically diverse areas in the county.
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